Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Part One: How to Create Great Spelling and Vocabulary Lists

We have been less than busy lately, unless you count running here and there.  The kids each have classes and activities that have kept us fairly active in the rainy weather.  For the most part it has been too rainy to really get out much (OR to do the laundry and hang it on the line...my only means of drying clothing...).  On rainy days we have mostly been reading and working here at home...unless the kids are out walking in the rain!  When I say rain, I mean the sweetest most gentle rain ever!

Man, I love Brisbane rain!

Bonobo is working on spelling, among other things.  For other mothers of sons who dislike all language work, this part of the post is for you.  Bonobo's spelling is quite atrocious.  He really hasn't cared much about spelling.  (I tried the browbeat method of spelling training and the giving him "bad grades" and letting him feel like a stupid kid method and that didn't work...)  A few weeks ago, he told me that he wanted to learn how to spell.

EUREKA!!!  (The moment I had waited for and never thought would arrive...)

The trick here was, of course, figuring out where to start.  So, as he loves Minecraft and about a dozen other games, I decided to begin with words that applied directly to what he was working on, but with a twist.  I read some of his stuff and cherry-picked out words that are useful to him.  Our first list contained words like "sword", "armour", and "defense".  He immediately wanted to spell those words correctly.  For each word, we talked about spelling words and exceptions that make that word make more sense.

He literally attacked this list!  LOL

This week I have selected words that are useful and likely to be used by him, as well as a word or two of similar spelling.  For example, with "battle" I can also use words like "little", "dabble", or "riddle".  So the target words can open us up to larger groups of words easily.

To improve spelling, I also plan on having him choose a set of words that he would like to work on, on selecting words directly from his reading, and using words we hear and see in the world as we move through it.  In these ways, I am using words that are relevant and emergent for him.  So he cares.

For Cassandra, erm, I mean The Doctor, we are doing lots of vocabulary.  She asked for it and she loves it.  We started out with a couple of those books with lists of words like 100 Words Every High School Graduate Should Know and other titles like that.  Not because they are authoritative lists, but just to give us someplace to begin.  Then, as she is working on monologues for drama, we started adding words that came directly out of those monologues or words that would apply to them.

This did two things simultaneously.  She, of course, understood the content of the monologue better, but she also better understood the overall context of the monologue, thereby improving her performance!  Win win.

Man, I love these kids!!!!

Bonobo and The Doctor


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  1. When I do spelling with Hadley, he often knows words, as he tells me, that word is in Minecraft! I am blessed with a good speller, he just seems to pick up words from reading them, and reading is what this boy does best! :) Shona

  2. And I also wanted to day Yay, for once I got the word verification on the first go!!


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